Sept. 14, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. - After being away so much in the last few weeks, everyone was definitely ready and relieved to be back home at the Farm when we returned from North Carolina late Sunday night. We all spent Monday recuperating from the long trip home, in preparation for the typical, grueling, Tuesday morning practice. Although we were all still a little sluggish and not quite readjusted to being back on the West Coast, we managed to survive the two-hour session, followed by a fitness test, followed by a weights circuit. I am fairly certain that the thought of the big weekend ahead was the only thing keeping our legs moving through the 10 120-yard sprints that Paul had us run. Although we have 10 newcomers on our team this year, the 17 returners definitely had one thought in mind. We knew this was going to be the weekend for revenge. Not only that, but it was our first big test of the season -- playing two top-10 opponents.
Although we were all eager to avenge our final four loss from last year in the College Cup, we knew that we needed to take care of business on Friday before we started thinking about our Sunday match. Purdue had had an undefeated start to the season, and we knew they would play hard, physical, Big Ten-style soccer. Coming from Indiana and having grown up playing with and against many of these girls, I knew exactly what to expect. Despite an early goal from Purdue, we remained calm and played Stanford-style soccer -- confident and composed -- knowing that the goals would come eventually, and they did because of Kelley's hard work and great finishing.
Saturday morning we had a light training session and were told that we were going to have a captain-run team meeting during lunch. Even though we had started out 6-0 on the season, it seemed we were still lacking some of the chemistry that we've had in prior years. We spent 30 minutes or so discussing and brainstorming how to make ourselves personally and collectively the best we can be. After the meeting, the team felt more united than ever. This transformation was obvious in the game on Sunday morning, in which we played hands-down some of the best soccer that we have all season, claiming a 2-0 win over the Notre Dame Irish.
Although we got the revenge we were seeking, the victory didn't taste nearly as sweet as it would have last December. Overall, we passed our first big test of the year, but as a team we know the season is long and the real test has just begun.
To sum up the weekend, it's best to quote Jay and Paul: "Enjoy the journey."
That was fun.